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annenberg media ♪ funding for this program was provided by... woman: the kinds of art that i'm engaged in, that i'm interested in, most deeply moved by, is a relational work. it's a work about public good and public art.
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it's about public speaking, in a sense. and it's really about changing on a larger scale, and problem solving, on a larger scale, some of the most important problems that we have to solve in this period of time. siqueiros uses a structure called polyangular theory. in that position -- you fall into his position. then all the corners of the wall disappear. the project that i'm working on now is a mural i designed for the usc student center with input from the latino student body. this mural is the focal point of a long struggle for the students at usc, who have struggled to assert their presence both in numbers and in sensibilities. we will use these lines to take to the center of our figures.
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and he figured them in mathematically... i call myself a chicana, because being a chicana means that i understand that i am in a position of the resistance of assimilation, essentially saying we will maintain our sensibility, that we are border people, that we live in the space between both the united states and mexico, that we are of neither and of both, and that we are, particularly, a people who...have a political point of view. and this is essentially the bones of the work. this will be like the bones -- what will hold the whole piece together so that not any part of the image will fly to a place. not an arm, not a leg, not a form, not a mountain, not a rock, will be placed haphazardly. it will be placed with intention. it will be placed in a musical rhythm, one form to the other.
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increasingly, more people are understanding that the creative act is one that begins at the very point of research or thinking -- that that is the beginning of the art. and as you look at our site over here, you can see that there's a couple of major ways that people will see the piece. people coming right in this door will walk through this part of the room, and come into the center of the room, and they'll have a direct view of the overall wall. the difference between the way i work and the way artists have worked historically is instead of using just simply line, form, and color, i would be interested in the physical space. the next part of this process is actually to work with the social milieu of the site, beginning to work with the students who occupy the spaces, beginning to research the history of the particular physical place of usc,
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and students work with me through a whole series of conversations to determine what are the most important things to them, what is the history of their presence on the campus, and they're actively engaged in the research into the archives of usc, and, beginning from that site, excavating material that got to the basis of the spirit of site. and that is the basis of this work. it's the basis of this artwork. man: it reflects a unified effort from a lot of different perspectives to show a true history of l.a., usc, and how that reflects on the chicano/latino population. and then we're going to take our punto system, or the mathematical, musical harmony, will snap into red. you're going to have to go up horizontally, too, so you can run 12 inches from the top down. woman: it was a hard battle to get it, but there's not a lot of public art on this campus, so to speak.
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and so maybe this mural will be just the beginning of many to come. as "x" is to 23. there you go! that's it. that's what we're doing. woman: the thing that i remember the most of imagery and what we were looking at was this wealth, you know, this thing coming out of the earth, really not to take, but to give back. baca: after the input from the students, my job is to create the drawing, and to incorporate the ideas into a concise and cohesive composition. this is the california landscape, the rolling hills in a giant ellipse. and it's as if the land was cut apart or sectioned so that you could see into it. the memory of the land is embedded in it. and inside of this ellipse, you see the man who, at the very beginning of los angeles, sold ice creams
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even before there was a city. the river that moves central to this land base, that is first water, and then concrete, and then water again, is sort of a wish for the future. the quiva at the center, which is the home place, the oven, the womb, as it were. the little, tiny houses that represent first sonora town, east los angeles, all the way through to chavez ravine. and in the land, the sleeping giant, who represents the mexicano/latino population of this region, awakes. first sleeping as a female, then male, then a female who o has the borr hammered into her back, awakes. and her hand pours out the blood that becomes this kind of march of humanity led by a spirit warrior, who is an azteca.
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i guess i've always been a visual artist. i was known through high school for my capacity to draw. and as i went off to art school, i focused on painting. sculpture was also a great interest of mine. well, we've just officially joined the -- now come into the next segment of the mural production. and we are going to paint. every artist has a mentor in the studio. for me, it's my grandmother, francisca. she created the values out of which i measure myself every day. when i was a young artist and just graduated from the university, my grandmother looked at my work and said, "what is it for?" and it's been a question that i've been trying to answer for over 20 years.
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i've been working in the field of public art for over 26 years. and in a variety of media. i came to muralism through graffiti, and thought that that was a great way to bring art to the street. one of my very earliest works is a work called "mi abuelita," and it was my first mural in the city of los angeles in the hall and beck band show. and it's a work about my grandmother, with arms open to the children from the afuereños niños, who could dance in her arms. in terms of farmworking images, there are very few that exist that are from the position of farmworkers -- their experiences and their life. the guadalupe mural project
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represents a yearlong residency in the city of guadalupe, which is a farmworking town in central california. another very early work is a piece called the "uprising of the mujeres." that figure of the indigenous woman who's rising up out of the fields has become something of a synonymous image with my work. in public spaces in los angeles, the spaces are controlled by young people. if i was to paint on one of these walls... i was going to have to have their permission. and so i began to organize gangs. people were really amazed that there were gang members painting, and the los angeles times carried the first article ever wri en about my work. it said, "gang members put down knives for brushes."
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and i spent seven years organizing it this way, and directing some of the very earliest murals in east los angeles. and it was out of that that the first city of los angeles mural program came. perhaps the work i'm most well-known for is "the great wall of los angeles" mural. it's a half-a-mile-long narrative work that depicts, in a chronological sequence, the history of various ethnic groups in california. the great wall was produced over a five-summer period with approximately 350 young people participating, ages 14 through 21, and to cover that wall once would take 300 gallons of paint. woman: back in 1976, judy founded the social and public art resource center, sparc, with "the great wall of los angeles."
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it's the longest mural in the world, and perhaps our signature piece. and from there, when judy was doing it, the mayoof los angeles at the time had asked, "is there any way that you can replicate this incredible project all over the city?" so what she developed was a project called the great walls unlimited neighborhood pride program. of the 70 pieces that sparc has done in all of these ethnic communities, the first thing that we did was that we sent two artists out to the site, and we posed questions like what is the history? what is the struggle? and based on that interaction between the artists and community, a design is drafted.
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it looks good, adriana. just keep it thin, and you can't lose. baca: the usc mural is in the midst of a great slowdown. and it is, in fact, the center of a controversy. they're bloody. could i take them out of the blood, the president says.
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at least i thought this was bad, very bad. what has happened is as we have developed the imagery in a giant, kind of collaborative, process, we've developed imagery that speaks to the struggles of the history of the chicano community in los angeles, and we've represented what is a pretty accurate story and, we think, a very optimistic one. apparently, the president of the university and other members of the administration are concerned with some of the images. woman: i think that the controversy that's going around with the mural is probably due to the fact that there's a lot of cultural misunderstanding. baca: there's a tiny, little three-quarter inch image of a lynching that is off the court street bridge
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in the center of the serpentine river. and that particular image is offensive to the administration. and i believe it to be a very offensive image as well. as the administrators said to me, "it is absolutely unacceptable." and i said, "i agree." not as an image, but as a fact. and it, in fact, is accurate and historical, and it seems to me it's not that you pretend those things didn't happen, but that you place them in a way that doesn't aggrandize them, that doesn't say this is a wonderful event, but reminds us how recent that history is. man: i think my learning started when judy first made her first presentation to a group of administrators, faculty, students. and it was at this presentation that judy kind of went through a scheme of fears and aspirations, hopes about the mural, and about what it eventually might look like,
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and what it eventually might have to say to the university community and community at large. and what it might have to represent. just from that point, i learned a lot about the politics that goes into art. baca: the history of murals is one that is speckled with controversy. and, in fact, in los angeles, one of the earliest murals, and perhaps the very basis of the movement of murals within los angeles, was a work by the great maestro david alfaro siqueiros, and in 1932, was almost instantly disappeared after its production, because of the fact that it spoke exactly to the same issues 70 years ago -- the condition of the mexicano within the state of california. i love these little red things. i think i'm going to go colorblind, now, looking at this red. an artist is really required to maintain a number of pieces happening simultaneously.
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and so you may have two or three projects going. i guess the best analogy would be to take spinning plates. you know, you get one in the air and you start spinning it, and then somebody pulls out the stick. and then you get another one spinning, and then another spinning, and you're running back and forth between them to keep them all in the stages of movement forward to eventual production. fort ord is the first of a series of conversions that are happening around the united states, and the military base will be converted into the 21st campus in the state of california. it is moving from a place in which men were trained to be soldiers to fight in military wars, and it's being transformed at this very moment into an institution where students are becoming learners.
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we are in the business of re-peopling this military base with the people who have lived through the experiences of being trained to go off and fight multiple wars. every war that ever occurred in the united states has been staged from fort ord. so we are doing a public art project that speaks to the presence of these men from varied backgrounds, with varied stories, who participated in the wars that the united states was party to. we are creating a visible presence of the history of the place through the creation of this work. today, you're going to be working with the liquitex paints. now, the liquitex paints have a number of things that are important for us as painters.
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baca: it's a little bit big. that's what i started with. wait. which one is he? he's...that guy. that's good. baca: is he going to have a story? this guy? he was a drug addict in the vietnam war. and he migrated from marijuana to heroin. the figure should fill up the space as much as you can deal with. think of a long view -- people driving down the street and seeing the figure. if you take those eyes and keep those leaping, and keep everything else subdued, it's a wonderful statement about the intensity of the person. the thing to think about is filling the space. you know, getting a big scale on it. baca: the historic model for an artist is one in which we see ourselves as a rather large ego. we are the center, and it's our vision of the world.
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the man who's standing behind this camera has a story that is so much the story that hits a chord of this whole place, that the camera needed to turn around and look at him. that's it. that's it? the cameraman had the experience of coming to be trained to be a fighting soldier, to be sent to vietnam. here's our soldier. steve's exactly my age, so i was there on the other side, you know, praying and worrying for my friends. and we didn't know that they were losing so badly. you know, we didn't know that it was that bad. we kept getting body counts of the viet cong, so we were hearing that we were doing well over there. he was coming back now as a grown man with the wisdom and experience of a lifetime, and going back to a place where he was trained to go to vietnam. i asked him, "what was the essence of that experience?"
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and he said, "it was a place where old men told young men lies." the process is the part that i am proudest of. and make no mistake about it. i am a painter. i love painting. paint, to me, is like magic. you know, it's liquid life. but beyond painting, it's never been enough. it's that painting, for me, has never been enough. it has always been those interactive processes that determine what i paint, and how i paint it, and who i paint it with, and whether i paint at all. all of that is about the process that is created to make that work. baca: he still has that little smirk on his mouth. mural painting is best taught by virtue of people working with someone more experienced. the apprentice model, which is a historic model, is the best model for training people to become a mural painter.
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the formal aspects of doing large-scale paintings are only one part of the process. as far as i'm concerned, it really is not as important as learning how do this with patience and insight and sensitivity. woman: do you want any certain color scheme separated? that's it. public art is perhaps one of the most political of all art forms, because what we're talking about is whose idea of a story can be represented, and whether, in fact, it's good for the public to know all of the things that have occurred in history that might not be so pleasant. my feeling is that it's extremely important that we remember the past so that we can change the future.
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just an old rag... with 3,000 hours in it! in a sense, there's a legacy here that exists within a mural form. and if that form is not passed on, it essentially dies. how tall is that room? ten feet. whoa! what is very important is that those of us who are practicing artists take responsibility for passing on what we know. boy, is she going to look different in that space. imagine. she's had all this breathing room. good. she's going to just be screaming at everybody's head.
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how does it look? feels great. all right. here we go. muralism is the only form that has been so closely associated with people of color to the degree that the entire form has been considered to be a lower-class form. and that's part of what i'm trying to struggle with continually. this form is an important form to keep alive and is, in fact, a form of high art. slowly. slowly. i'm really happy to see the piece where it belongs.
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clearly, the design works in the space. and i'm really happy to see it with students in connection to the piece. i believe wholeheartedly that an artist should be a conscience. the artist has to be an imaginer of other possibilities. that our job is, in a sense, a kind of spiritual leadership. i absolutely believe that creative process, creative thinking and problem solving, or the processes that artists use, are the basis of social change. i absolutely believe we can better the world. -- captions by vitac -- burbank, pittsburgh, washington
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Mosaic World News
LINKTV October 29, 2012 7:30pm-8:00pm PDT

News/Business. English news reports from Middle Eastern broadcasters. (CC)


TOPIC FREQUENCY Baca 8, California 5, Usc 5, Vietnam 3, United States 3, Mexicano 2, Us 2, East Los Angeles 2, Annenberg Media 2, Chavez 1, Francisca 1, Beck 1, Usc Mural 1, Vitac 1, Quiva 1, Sparc 1, Adriana 1, Muralism 1, United 1, Steve 1
Network LINKTV
Duration 00:30:00
Rating PG-13;V
Scanned in San Francisco, CA, USA
Source Comcast Cable
Tuner Channel 89 (615 MHz)
Video Codec mpeg2video
Audio Cocec ac3
Pixel width 544
Pixel height 480
Sponsor Internet Archive
Audio/Visual sound, color

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on 10/30/2012